“So here’s an exercise: the next time someone asks you to do something that might interrupt your creative flow, just say no. Then let’s see what kind of creative output comes in that space.”
Can I pick your brain?
“I don’t think that to work is to live,” Lawrence says. “Work is alright in proportion: but one wants to have a certain richness and satisfaction in oneself, which is more than anything produced. One wants to be.”
“What advice would Bennett give to a journalist considering a job at a brand-affiliated publication? “Decide if you’re comfortable feeling like a PR person, and if you’re not, make sure you can do content that doesn’t suck. Or just say fuck it and take that $$$$$$,” she says. “No, but seriously, I think it’s possible to create good, compelling content for a brand—and you’ll likely be given the resources to do so, but I think it all depends on the brand and the bosses. One thing to ask: Will your work have to be approved by PR?” Also, be aware that there is a significant culture gap between traditional media companies and tech startups—for better and for worse. “Tumblr has no phones,” Bennett says. “So we get there, and I’m all, ‘I need to do interviews,’ but everyone’s like, ‘Oh, we just use our cellphones.’ This was before they hired a sales team. So I’m conducting interviews on my cellphone, which cuts out constantly, in the hallway in the elevator duct, ‘cause there were also no phone booths. I had Aziz Ansari on the phone one time, and I couldn’t hear a fucking thing he was saying. My phone dies as I’m trying to record it. Ultimately we almost had to kill the interview because it was so bad.” If you do take the leap, don’t expect any more stability than you had at your old-media job. “In the end, Tumblr decided it didn’t work, for reasons we’re not sure of,” Bennett says. “The truth is, I don’t have any regrets about going to work for Tumblr. Getting to experiment in this space—even if it ultimately led to being unemployed after barely a year—was way more exciting than watching budgets shrink, ad pages shrink, and everything else that has happened at old media outlets like Newsweek over the past year.”
“Lately - due to not working and due, too, to observing how much more prestige and authority other people with less ability carry - it seems to me, now that I definitely want rewards during my lifetime, that given a good talent, its recognition and elevation to great are utterly dependent on expolitation and outside funny-business, the personal approach. If someone doesn’t do this for you, you must do it yourself. Walter Duranty at Carol Hill Brandt’s the other day described to me Bolitho’s attitude toward this - sweep into a room no matter your height. Above all, be a great genius to your friends… Since I have always been disparaging about my work to my friends, I read a lesson in this. Observing elsewhere, I see how certain friends make good by sheer social contact - a flair for knowing who’s who, for using these people without aggression. Success is a gift - like any knack for weaving something out of a few strings which to the rest of us are nothing but a few strings.”
“Consider that expecting everyone else on your team to respond to emails at 6am within fifteen minutes of you sending them because you’re an insomniac workaholic will only lead to sleep deprivation and poor decision making for everyone involved.”